Back in my early 20's, I had a hard time making new friends — and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. Whenever I would meet new people at work or school, I would be pleasant and agree with everything the other person was saying. Even if I didn't agree at first, I would toss away my opinion in favor of theirs. I followed this mode of interaction with people for years, but this led to very few friendships or connections. However, after going to therapy and a lot of self-reflection, I realized that one of the main reasons why people didn't want to be my friend was due to me being needy.
And what caused me to be needy for so long was not having any personal values.
But before we talk about values, let's clarify what neediness is?
I've heard the term 'needy' countless times during my needy days, but I never once actually understood it. So here I was being needy without even knowing I was practicing it. And this could be the case for many people.
So let's get this definition out of the way first.
To be needy in any interaction or relationship is to have an insatiable desire to be affirmed, validated, sought out, and attended to (source: rccaustin.com).
So whenever you find yourself dependant on someone for validation, affirmation, attention, etc. Then that's a sign you are being needy.
And by understanding what this behavior is we can learn why personal values are the antidote.
One thing to understand about neediness is the dependency on someone else to meet a need. And that someone else is part of the external world. So what needs to be done is turn that dependency inward with personal values.
When you have personal values and pay consistent attention to them, then that will direct your behavior. The problem with neediness is that there is a lack of an internal compass, so people latch on to other people to give them the security they want in life.
But with personal values, you can consult them to validate yourself.
You can quickly see whether you are straying or not based on your values. It's hard to be dependant on others for validation when you have your personal values. In fact, you will feel like you are betraying yourself when you choose someone else over your values.
Personal values show you how much power you have over your own life.
Being needy myself for years, I can tell you how powerless it felt to be dependant on others. Always waiting for their reactions to see if they approved of my actions or views. Which was incredibly exhausting.
But personal values show you the freedom to live life the way you feel is best. It's the compass to guide you in the difficult terrain of life.
But where can you find your own compass?
It seems easy to pick some values and just start following them right?
Well, not really. You have to treat your personal values with the utmost seriousness. You can't choose just random ones and hope it will help stop you from being needy.
However, what you can do is take some time this week and think about what it is you truly want in life. Now I don't mean riches or fame. But the things you enjoy in life and want to cultivate more. To get your brain warmed up, here are some of my personal values that I came up with:
Respect in family relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships
Focusing on joy over happiness
Cultivating the heroic mindset
This is a sample, but these values and more are what direct my day-to-day living. These came from a lot of thinking and looking at writings or authors that represented things that I deeply respected.
So again, take your time and find the values you want directing your life.
Remember, you have to be willing to sacrifice for these values. If you are not willing to do so, then it's not the value you want in life.
In my case, respect in all my relationships is such a deeply held value that I have cut off people who could not respect it. You have to be willing to make similar sacrifices for your values.
But how can you use personal values to stop being needy?
First off, you have to review your values every day, at least once. I know this sounds a little mechanical, but you have to realize that you are not going to remember your values easily. So you have to consciously review them until you can remember them all. And then even at that, you should review your values every three months.
Anyways, while being conscious of your values, you might encounter moments where you have the impulse to satisfy your needy desires of validation or affirmation. In those moments, you bring up your values and see which one you are going to betray.
And take a moment to think about this disloyalty.
Will abandoning a value for the sake of someone else be worth it? When you consciously see the value you want to practice in your life and the behavior that insults it, sobering up from being needy becomes a little easier. And as result, there is a good chance you will stop yourself from practicing the needy behavior.
However, this needs to be done consistently for a little while. Then there will come a time, where you naturally live out your values and rarely betray yourself for being needy.
What if values don't stop me from being dependant on others?
In cases where values are not stopping needy behavior, you have to have a serious conversation with yourself about the chosen values.
Because if you are not willing to make an effort for your values, then it's a sign that you don't care too much for that value. And if this is the case, then you should consider seeing a therapist, there might be some deep internal issues that are very difficult to fight.
Deep-seated internal conflicts can interfere with people living out their values. No matter how much they tell themselves they want something, their behavior shows the opposite. I used to be like that. Before therapy, I had the value of self-respect, but my behavior betrayed that value, and I couldn't figure it out until I went to therapy.
So if you have a similar case, then don't be afraid to get help.
Now all this talk about values sounds like hard work.
Who in their right mind would have values direct their behavior or direction.
Well, if you go into any organization or corporation, you will see that most, if not all, have values that drive their long-term plans. Heck, when companies or organizations are looking to hire people, they ensure they bring on people who share similar values. Because not having people with similar values will make it hard to work cohesively.
Values are integral to how organizations/companies run. And the ones that lack values are not the ones that last very long.
Hopefully, by now you are a little excited about finding personal values to live by.
But to make sure you are getting the most out of your values, you want to make sure you don't make this simple mistake: forgetting about your values.
I know this sounds too simple and I shouldn't bring this up. But the thing is, it's so easy to nod our heads in agreement about values but forget about it in a week.
So like I said previously in this article, ensure you review your values at least once a day until you remember them by heart. You have to realize that you are going to die and that you will never have a second chance at life. It's the harsh truth.
So go find your values and embrace them.
And live life knowing that this is your one shot. Because if you have your values in your mind in your day-to-day existence, you will find it very hard to be needy or cave into other people's expectations.
Because with our once-in-a universe-shot at life, we might as well live it the way we always wanted to.